by Dave Vokey
Extremely fridgid temperatures were the order of the day on May 11 at Barrie Speedway, quite the contrast from the week prior, thus causing several drivers to alter their previous race set ups as the evening's card was set to commence. The biggest story to form on the night was the performance of sophmore Late Model driver #14 "Hurricane" Thayne Hallyburton of Hillsdale, as he would capture his first career feature win in the first of twin 30 lap features in the Wahta Springs sponsored division. Hallyburton, who has toiled in both the Thunder Car and Pure Stock ranks prior to his Late Model debut last season, was chased to the line by current point leader #10 Gordie Shepherd of Oro Station, who eventually would finish second in a stellar and talent laden 16 car field. With the win, Hallyburton would advance to third in the season long point standings just 9 points in back of Shepherd, with 2011 track champ #57 Ron "The Dominator" Quesnelle of Penetang sandwiched in between the pair just 6 markers behind.
The race would begin with another sophmore competitor #91 Andre Pepin of Midland grabbing the initial lead from the pole position, after getting the jump on #74 Roy Manary of Gravenhurst from the drop of the green. Pepin, would soldier on with the lead for the first few laps, with the duo of Hallyburton and Shepherd also shooting through along the inside line past Manary to check into 2nd and 3rd respectively. Hallyburton, would begin to reel in Pepin when the race's first and only caution would appear on lap 7, when #28 Robin Jongen of Kilworthy spun in turn 2 after contact with #43 Darin Malcolm of North Bay, with the ensuing result seeing both drivers summoned to the back of the pack as involved cars. This would set the stage for Hallyburton to power to the point from outside pole on the restart, leaving Pepin to fend off a challenge from both Shepherd and #69 Al "Red Rocket" Inglis of Orillia, who was diligently working the outer groove. Shepherd, would be the first one to find the back bumper of Pepin, darting down to the inside line on the exit of turn 4, and completing the pass as the duo raced out of turn two on lap 12.
At the front of the field, leader Hallyburton was now clear of Shepherd by 5 car lengths, with Shepherd cutting into Hallyburton's lead ever so slightly just past the midway mark. By lap 21, Shepherd had now closed the distance considerably and was right on Hallyburton's tail looking to both the high and low side, trying to cause a slip up from Hallyburton's Hillsdale Service Center Monte Carlo SS. The lead duo would run into lapped traffic just two laps later, with both drivers negoiating that dilemma with relative ease. On lap 26, Shepherd would take one final stab at the race lead, giving Hallyburton a bump in turn 4 and getting him crossways approaching the flagstand. In a true show of class, division veteran Shepherd would back off and allow Hallyburton to gather it up, as the latter would move out once again to a five car length advantage. They would race to the checkered in this order, as a jubilant Hallyburton would notch the feature race glory. Shepherd, would continue an impressive streak of finishes in coming home the runner up, with Quesnelle, Inglis, and #02 Shawn Murray of Alliston rounding out the top 5.
In the 30 lap finale to the evening, it was Shepherd who would ride into victory lane in his BFI Canada/ Montana's Cookhouse/Cowden Woods sponsored Ford Fusion. With the win, 2009 track champ Shepherd, would continue a string of 4 straight feature races in which the driver has notched no worse than a runner up result. The race would begin with the 02 of Murray and 43 of Malcolm doing battle from the front row, with Murray powering to the lead in turn 2 along the inside line just a couple laps in. This turn of events would leave Malcolm to fall back into the clutches of the 57 of Quesnelle, with the latter setting up a nifty inside pass in turn three on lap 5. Just one lap later, Malcolm would run up on Quesnelle's bumper between turns 1&2, with contact made between the pair sending Quesnelle for a loop and both drivers summoned arrears deemed involved cars. At this point in the race the top five would consist of Murray, Shepherd, Jongen, #54 Randy Bull of Haliburton, and race one winner Hallyburton. Murray and Shepherd would have an impressive dice on the restart, with Shepherd gaining the advantage after two solid laps door handle to door handle.
Approaching the ten lap mark, Shepherd was widening his lead with each passing lap, leaving Murray to do battle with the 28 of Jongen, while in behind Bull and Hallyburton were waging war for 4th place positioning, in a duel eventually won by Hallyburton. Also making his presence felt in the lead grouping was the 69 of Inglis, as the talented veteran would pass Bull on the inside of turn three on lap 13, to enter the top 5. At the midway point, the lead duo of Shepherd and Murray was approaching lapped traffic with Shepherd making his way through very efficently, further extending his lead over Murray, with Quesnelle and Malcolm now battling mid pack for seventh, with Quesnelle working his way around his fellow competitor on the outside of turn three on lap 19. At this point in the race the best battle on track was the race for third involving Jongen and Hallyburton, with a game Hallyburton looking to the outside of Jongen but unable to make a pass stick. On lap 24, the caution would fly once again, this time for rookie contender #44 Mike Meyer, who spun just before the enterance to pit road in turn 2. Shepherd, would once again jet out to the point over Murray on the restart, as Murray soon found Jongen nipping at his heels for 2nd in the running order. Jongen, would give Murray a knock in turn 2, shooting Murray crossways and up onto the outer groove, leading into what was a stunning save, but also allowing the 14 of Hallyburton to get past to claim 3rd place. Murray, would become some what of a human pinball entering the next corner, when he valiantly tried to find the inside line, cutting down in front of the 4th place car of Inglis, with contact made sending Murray for a spin and both drivers sent to the back of the pack with just a handful of laps remaining. It was clear nobody was catching the stout Shepherd on this evening however, as he would parade to the checkered by a comfortable margin over Jongen at the finish. Hallyburton, would cap off a solid point night with a hard earned third place finish, with Quesnelle and Pepin rounding out the fast five.
In Canestoga Sprayers and Asphalt Repair Thunder Car action, it was defending track champion #10 Rick Walt of Hawkestone who came home the victor in the 30 lap main. The race would kick start with #12 Jim "Polish Prince" Belesky of Carthew Bay moving into a healthy lead from the outside pole, leaving pole sitter #52 Greg Callow of Oro to do battle with #39 Travis Hallyburton for runner up positioning, in a dice that saw Hallyburton come out on top. Also on the move in the early going was the #44 of Dave "The Deuce" Doucette of Angus, as the talented wheelman would charge from 8th on the starting grid into 4th in the running order, after disposing of #40 Donny Brandon of Barrie to claim that position. Doucette's charge to the front would not end there, as he would work to the inside of Callow to take 3rd, as an alert Walt was quick to follow that move, dropping Callow back to fifth place.
Just past the ten lap mark, Hallyburton had now run down Belesky for the race lead, and the young upstart would take over at the front of the field, with a hard charging Doucette also finding a way past Belesky to move into runner up positioning. At this point in the race, the best battle was shaping up just outside of the top five with Brandon, and staunch rookie #37 Robbie Sikes of Orillia battling tooth and nail lap after lap, with Brandon coming out on top with an inside pass in turn 3 on lap 15. At the front of the pack the action was just as fast and furious, with leader Hallyburton holding a slender car length advantage over 2007 track champ Doucette. On lap 18, the unthinkable would happen when Doucette would get Hallyburton loose and make contact with his right rear quarter panel while trying to work around the outside groove. The result would send Hallyburton for a wild spin just beyond the flagstand, with the caution appearing and Doucette slowing along the inside line of the track, basically admitting guilt and taking his place at the rear of the field with Hallyburton joining him as an involved car. This set the stage for close friends and bitter on track rivals Belesky and Walt to do battle from the front row, with Walt moving out to a big lead, as Belesky appeared to have mechanical issues pending, as last weeks feature winner #00 Darryl St. Onge of Barrie took over 2nd place positioning. Once out front Walt has proven tough, if not impossible to catch, and that was the story here as Walt would take the win by a substantial margin over St. Onge at the stripe. Belesky, was able to complete the race coming home 3rd, as Hallyburton and Doucette comprised the remainder of the top 5.
Heat wins went to current point leader St. Onge and Doucette.
In the 20 lap St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock main, it was a relative newcomer to the speedway #10 Doug Butler of New Lowell who claimed feature race glory in his ultra quick Nissan 240 sx. Butler, a longtime staple of the area Pure Stock ranks, put in a masterful drive, excuting a brilliant 3 wide pass of early race leader #09 Dean Curry of Singhampton and #57 Ryan Toon of Stayner on the inside of turn 2 in the late stages to take the race lead. Butler, who started 11th in the 15 car field would claim his first ever Barrie feature win on a points night, with the driver only having visited the High Line winners circle in an invitational race a few seasons ago. #57 Ryan Toon would match a career best in coming home in 2nd, while promising upstart #400 Justin Holmes of Barrie would round out the list of podium finishers. Defending track champ and last weeks feature winner #9 Charlie Smith of Orillia could only manage a 4th place showing after starting from the 13th place position, with a solid 5th place showing turned in by #77 Mike Gettliffe, also of Orillia.
Four different heat winners came in the form of Holmes, Smith, #11 Adam Misener, and visiting driver #36 Cory Young of Owen Sound.
PIT NOTES ------------- As mentioned earlier, the Pure Stock ranks would see a new face appear as #36 Cory Young of Owen Sound would make his third career Barrie appearance in his Honda Civic, capturing a heat win and finishing just outside of the top 5 in the feature race. Young, a longtime front runner at Sauble Speedway, plans to call Varney Speedway home in 2013, with a couple returns to the High Line not ruled out of his 2013 plans. Be sure to join us next weekend when all three divisions are back in a ction for Jeggs Night, and in two weeks time its the return of the Ontario Legends Series, as former Barrie Challenger competitor #24 Andy Warbutton leads a strong contingent of Legends drivers to the High Line for their only appearance of the 2013 season.. Pit Gates open at 1pm, with spectatior gate open for business at 5pm, and green flag slated to drop one hour later at 6pm. Highlight these dates on your calendar's folks, as they will prove to be can't miss events!!!